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Become A General Sales Associate

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Working As A General Sales Associate

  • Performing for or Working Directly with the Public
  • Selling or Influencing Others
  • Getting Information
  • Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships
  • Communicating with Persons Outside Organization
  • Deal with People

  • Unpleasant/Angry People

  • $83,158

    Average Salary

What Does A General Sales Associate Do

Retail sales workers include both those who sell retail merchandise, such as clothing, furniture, and cars, (called retail salespersons) and those who sell spare and replacement parts and equipment, especially car parts (called parts salespersons). Both types of workers help customers find the products they want and process customers’ payments.

Duties

Retail sales workers typically do the following:

  • Greet customers and offer them assistance
  • Recommend merchandise based on customers’ wants and needs
  • Explain the use and benefit of merchandise to customers
  • Answer customers’ questions
  • Show how merchandise works, if applicable
  • Add up customers’ total purchases and accept payment
  • Inform customers about current sales, promotions, and policies about payments and exchanges

The following are examples of types of retail sales workers:

Retail salespersons work in stores where they sell goods, such as books, cars, clothing, cosmetics, electronics, furniture, lumber, plants, shoes, and many other types of merchandise.

In addition to helping customers find and select items to buy, many retail salespersons process the payment for the sale, which typically involves operating cash registers.

After taking payment for the purchases, retail salespersons may bag or package the purchases.

Depending on the hours they work, retail salespersons may have to open or close cash registers. This includes counting the money in the register and separating charge slips, coupons, and exchange vouchers. They may also make deposits at a cash office.

For information about other workers who receive and disburse money, see the profile on cashiers.

In addition, retail salespersons may help stock shelves or racks, arrange for mailing or delivery of purchases, mark price tags, take inventory, and prepare displays.

For some retail sales jobs, particularly those involving expensive and complex items, retail sales workers need special knowledge or skills. For example, those who sell cars must be able to explain the features of various models, manufacturers’ specifications, different types of options on the car, financing available, and the details of associated warranties.

In addition, retail sales workers must recognize security risks and thefts and understand their organization’s procedures for handling thefts—procedures that may include notifying security guards or calling police.

Parts salespersons sell spare and replacement parts and equipment, especially car parts. Most work in either automotive parts stores or automobile dealerships. They take customers’ orders, inform customers of part availability and price, and take inventory.

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How To Become A General Sales Associate

Typically, there are no formal education requirements for retail sales workers. Most receive on-the-job training, which usually lasts a few days to a few months.

Education

Although retail or parts sales positions usually have no formal education requirements, some employers prefer applicants who have a high school diploma or equivalent, especially employers who sell technical products or “big-ticket” items, such as electronics or cars.

Training

Most retail sales workers receive on-the-job training, which usually lasts a few days to a few months. In small stores, an experienced employee often trains newly hired workers. In large stores, training programs are more formal and usually conducted over several days.

During training sessions, topics often include customer service, security, the store’s policies and procedures, and how to operate the cash register.

Depending on the type of product they are selling, employees may be given additional specialized training. For example, salespersons working in cosmetics get instruction on the types of products the store offers and for whom the cosmetics would be most beneficial. Likewise, those who sell computers may be instructed on the technical differences between computer products.

Because providing exceptional service to customers is a priority for many employers, employees often get periodic training to update and refine their skills.

Advancement

Retail sales workers typically have opportunities to advance to supervisory or managerial positions. Some employers want candidates for managerial positions to have a college degree.

As sales workers gain experience and seniority, they often move into positions that have greater responsibility and may be given their choice of departments in which to work. This opportunity often means moving to positions with higher potential earnings and commissions. The highest earnings potential usually involves selling “big-ticket” items—such as cars, jewelry, furniture, and electronics. These positions often require workers with extensive knowledge of the product and an excellent talent for persuasion.

Important Qualities

Customer-service skills. Retail sales workers must be responsive to the wants and needs of customers. They should explain the product options available to customers and make appropriate recommendations.

Interpersonal skills. A friendly and outgoing personality is important for these workers because the job requires almost constant interaction with people. 

Math skills. Retail sales workers must have the ability to calculate price totals, discounts, and change owed to customers.

Persistence. A large number of attempted sales may not be successful, so sales workers should not be discouraged easily. They must start each new sales attempt with a positive attitude.

Selling skills. Retail sales workers must be persuasive when interacting with customers. They must clearly and effectively explain the benefits of the merchandise.

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General Sales Associate jobs

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General Sales Associate Career Paths

General Sales Associate
Package Handler Material Handler Security Officer
Account Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Production Worker Home Health Aid Front Desk Agent
Assistant General Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Data Entry Associate Specialist Operations Manager
Branch Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Sales Consultant Sales Manager
Director Of Sales
10 Yearsyrs
Technician Service Manager General Manager
District Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Sales Consultant Senior Sales Representative Account Executive
District Sales Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Delivery Driver Service Technician Service Manager
General Manager
7 Yearsyrs
General Manager Account Executive Sales Manager
General Sales Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Production Worker Technician Sales Consultant
Internet Sales Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Package Handler Security Officer Account Manager
National Account Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Specialist Project Manager Program Manager
Operations Director
9 Yearsyrs
Warehouse Associate Forklift Operator Technician
Operations Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Delivery Driver Maintenance Technician Project Manager
Program Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Data Entry Associate Office Manager Account Manager
Regional Sales Manager
9 Yearsyrs
General Manager Account Manager Sales Manager
Sales And Marketing Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Warehouse Associate Security Officer Account Manager
Sales Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Specialist Account Manager
Senior Account Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Technician Project Manager Program Manager
Senior Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Technical Support Specialist Information Technology Manager Operations Manager
Territory Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Technical Support Specialist Specialist Account Manager
Territory Sales Manager
7 Yearsyrs
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Average Length of Employment
Retail Sales Lead 2.4 years
Seller 2.3 years
Sales Person 2.2 years
Hourly Sales Staff 2.2 years
Sales Consultant 2.2 years
Retail Sales Clerk 2.2 years
Sales Assoc 2.1 years
Sales Clerk 2.0 years
Sales Assistant 2.0 years
Associate 1.9 years
Customer Assistant 1.9 years
Sales Expert 1.9 years
Phone Sales 1.8 years
Paint Associate 1.7 years
Attendant Sales 1.6 years
Cashier/Sales 1.6 years
Sales Associate 1.6 years
Adviser Sales 1.5 years
Team Associate 1.5 years
Sales Team Member 1.5 years
Associate Retailer 1.4 years
Seasonal Associate 0.6 years
Sales Internship 0.5 years
Top Employers Before
Cashier 14.8%
Internship 4.5%
Associate 4.5%
Server 3.9%
Volunteer 3.6%
Manager 3.2%
Supervisor 2.6%
Assistant 2.4%
Top Employers After
Cashier 8.1%
Associate 5.5%
Internship 4.5%
Server 3.8%
Manager 3.4%
Volunteer 3.0%

General Sales Associate Demographics

Gender

Male

57.0%

Female

41.9%

Unknown

1.1%
Ethnicity

White

79.3%

Hispanic or Latino

12.4%

Asian

6.4%

Unknown

1.3%

Black or African American

0.6%
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Languages Spoken

Spanish

54.7%

German

7.8%

French

7.8%

Japanese

6.3%

Arabic

6.3%

Russian

1.6%

Portuguese

1.6%

Bulgarian

1.6%

Chinese

1.6%

Turkish

1.6%

Urdu

1.6%

Hindi

1.6%

Armenian

1.6%

Mandarin

1.6%

Polish

1.6%

Italian

1.6%
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General Sales Associate Education

Schools

University of Phoenix

10.3%

Universal Technical Institute

10.3%

Saginaw Valley State University

6.9%

Forsyth Technical Community College

5.7%

Miami Dade College

5.7%

Missouri State University

4.6%

Ferris State University

4.6%

Monroe Community College

4.6%

University of Massachusetts - Boston

4.6%

University of Missouri - Columbia

4.6%

Southern New Hampshire University

4.6%

Kaplan University

4.6%

Western Michigan University

4.6%

Wayne State University

3.4%

Robert Morris University

3.4%

University of Nebraska at Omaha

3.4%

Lansing Community College

3.4%

University of Central Missouri

3.4%

University of Toledo

3.4%

Bowling Green State University

3.4%
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Majors

Business

24.5%

General Studies

6.8%

Communication

6.2%

Criminal Justice

6.2%

Psychology

6.0%

Management

5.5%

Nursing

4.5%

Accounting

4.5%

Information Technology

4.3%

Education

4.1%

Health Care Administration

4.1%

Law

3.0%

Graphic Design

3.0%

Automotive Technology

2.8%

Economics

2.8%

Computer Science

2.6%

Sociology

2.6%

Marketing

2.6%

Kinesiology

2.1%

Liberal Arts

2.1%
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Degrees

Bachelors

35.2%

Other

32.5%

Associate

17.4%

Masters

5.9%

Certificate

4.8%

Doctorate

2.4%

Diploma

1.6%

License

0.3%
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Job type you want
Full Time
Part Time
Internship
Temporary

Top Skills for A General Sales Associate

NewMerchandiseProductKnowledgeSalesFloorSafetyGeneralSalesCreditCardDeliveryHondaInventoryControlCustomerServiceSkillsLossCustomerSatisfactionNewAssociatesElectricPalletJackDataEntryAdditionalCommunicationSkillsSalesGoalsPhoneCallsStockShelves

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Top General Sales Associate Skills

  1. New Merchandise
  2. Product Knowledge
  3. Sales Floor
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Provide price tags on new merchandise.
  • Provided consultation of network and system configurations through comprehensive product knowledge and customer service.
  • Stocked/merchandised sales floor quickly and accurately.
  • Ensured that products were packed and shipped in accordance with packaging guidelines, safety, and quality standards.
  • Serve as General Sales team member responsible for assisting customers throughout the store.

Top General Sales Associate Employers

General Sales Associate Videos

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